HOBOKEN – Hoboken’s political campaigns are notoriously heated, but never have they used Nazi graphics in their campaigns.
That is, until Tuesday and Wednesday night, when a truck drove around displaying Nazi imagery that had appeared two years ago as part of political satire on local blogs. The ad voice-over criticized the Kids First school board slate for not condemning the images, as similar imagery had appeared on a blog of a strong supporter and one-time graphic artist for that slate.
However, the blogger in question, Nancy Pincus, had apologized to a Jewish group for the imagery in 2010 and recently said she is not involved in the current school board campaign.
The school board slate that is opposed to Kids First, Move Forward, has publicly denied that they hired the truck.
The school board election will be held Nov. 6. Besides the Kids First and Move Forward slates, one independent in is in the running for the three seats on the board.
On Friday, two rabbis in Hoboken weighed in on the controversy, saying the use of the symbols can cause great harm.
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro of Chabad in Hoboken said he hadn’t seen the truck himself, but “I’ve seen pictures and I think it’s despicable. I’m appalled and shocked that anyone can use an image of such hatred and bigotry. I don’t know whose side, what side, if they’re repeating something, but how can one be so insensitive to Holocaust survivors who will walk by, or people who had grandparents who survived the camps, and have to witness such an image driving around the city?”
He added, “Whoever is responsible should immediately remove it and apologize. I am shocked this could happen in this day and age. In other countries it’s a crime to use that image. We have freedom of speech, but a million and a half Jewish babies were killed…this is not something that should be used for some political gain.”
Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, who two years ago issued a statement after Pincus was criticized for using Nazi imagery in a parody on her blog, said this time around, “Using Nazi imagery in a local Hoboken election, trivializing the cataclysmic events of World War II, is completely inexcusable. I would urge whoever is responsible for these projected images to follow the example of the local blogger who, two years ago, publicly apologized for her use of such images on her blog and immediately removed them.”
Ruth McAllister, a Jewish school board member allied with Kids First, also weighed in early Friday morning in response to quotes against her slate from Move Forward. She said her response was on behalf of the Kids First slate.
"The people who should be denounced are the people who hired the truck that is driving around Hoboken waving a Nazi flag,” she said.
She added, “The people that should be denouncing them are the people that the truck is supporting. We want to talk about education, and this is what we are going to do."
For more on this issue, see our Thursday breaking news item here.